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Withdrawing Medical Support And Euthanasia

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Withdrawing Medical Support And Euthanasia Question: Discuss about the Ethical Difference Between Withdrawing Medical Support and Euthanasia.     Answer: Healthcare ethics focusses on the way professional need to conduct themselves within the hospital setting. This entails making decisions on patient situations based on the available professional standards rather than personal feeling about a patient. The ethical issues create a difference between withdrawal of medical support and euthanasia (Willmott, White, Smith, & Wilkinson, 2014). These two terms have been ethically contested as carrying the same meaning while some argue that there is a difference between the two. This essay analyses the ethical difference between euthanasia and withdrawal of medical support. One major difference between the two terms is withdrawal of medical support does not end life while euthanasia ends life. Medical support is given to patients who may require the aid of machines to survive. Such patients may require oxygen or feeding through the tube since the medical condition does not allow them to operate normally (Carr, 2014). This does not mean that they will dies. On the other hand, euthanasia is killing out of mercy for patients who are regarded as enduring a lot of suffering and their state cannot be revised but will eventually lead to death. Some countries allow family members to choose the option of ending the suffering through killing by mercy. However, ethically, euthanasia is not allowed since being in a critical condition does not always lead to death. A study by Lipsett, et al. (2000) revealed that some people have come out of critical conditions that doctors have failed to understand how it happens. This study indicates that patients who are in ICU and on medical support can pull out of their conditions and survive death. Which means if euthanasia was used on them, then death will have been wrong sentence. Patricia White a persistent vegetative comma patient came back to life after sixteen years (Lewis, 2014). Therefore, medical support can be withdrawn to allow the patient to die of natural causes rather than induce the death.   According to Borry, Schotsmans, & Dierickx (2006) medical support allows the body of the patient to function better through life supporting elements that can prolong life. On the other hand, euthanasia seeks to end life instantly thus denying the patient an opportunity to die of natural causes. Use of lethal injections or other medical that lead to death deny the patient the opportunity to enjoy the natural way of dying (Lipsett, et al., 2000). Since the pain of death cannot be measured, euthanasia can cause the patient greater pain than the actual death itself. In most cases, such patients are in a critical condition thus cannot make a decision on the best form of euthanasia that works best for them. For example, when U.S. Representative Gabrielle Gifford of Arizona was shot, she was put in a medically induced coma that allowed her to recover even when nobody expected that she will pull through. However, withdrawal of medical support allows the body to switch off slowly as every functional part of the body stops functioning. On the other hand, euthanasia is forceful death where the heart is forced to stop functioning which leads to sudden death of the patient. Withdrawal of medical support is done gradually allowing the body to adjust and switch to its natural way of operating with the disease. Many families take care of their loved ones and want to enjoy the situation of “died peacefully in our arms” for one of their own. Such families regard the meaning of a person’s body as more important than the suffering that they go through. Virtue ethics is based on what the individual wants to be and emphasis on tradition and community. For example, parents will want to participate actively in the transition of their children from life to death as their bodies switch off and ensure that they share the last moments. Such parents accept the gradual withdrawal of life support and allow their loved ones to slowly die. However, the condition of euthanasia brings sudden death which denies the family and the patient the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of natural death. Withdrawal of medical support only applies in situations where the support is no longer helpful or needed by the patient (Reichlin, 2014). As such the support is withdrawn to allow the body to operate on its normal processes. Based on Kant’s deontology, the act should be universalized to determine if it is ethical. In this case, euthanasia will fail the test of time since different communities have their own understanding of life. Therefore, there is an ethical difference between euthanasia and withdrawal of medical support. The former is direct killing of the patient through use of eternal chemicals or processes to make the individual die. On the other hand, the latter is withdrawal support, when practitioners or the patient feel that the life support is no longer useful. This does not always lead to death since the patient is left to die of natural death rather than induced death. Critical condition patients do not always die but can survive even after the withdrawal of life support. Therefore I conclude that euthanasia is unethical despite its intended outcomes, patients should be left to die of natural causes rather than induce death on them.   References Borry, P., Schotsmans, P., & Dierickx, K. (2006). Empirical research in bioethical journals. A quantitative analysis. Journal of Medical Ethics, 32(4), 240-245. Carr, C. (2014). Unlocking Medical Law and Ethics. London: Routledge. Lewis, T. (2014). Improbable Resurrections: 5 Real Cases of Coming Back to Life. Retrieved from Live Science: Lipsett, P. A., Swoboda, S. M., Dickerson, J., Ylitalo, M., Gordon, T., Breslow, M., . . . Rosenfeld, B. (2000). Survival and Functional Outcome After Prolonged Intensive Care Unit Stay. Anals of Surgery, 231(2), 262-268. Reichlin, M. (2014). On the ethics of withholding and withdrawing medical treatment. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine, 9(1). Willmott, L., White, B., Smith, M. K., & Wilkinson, D. J. (2014). Withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in a patient’s best interests: Australian judicial deliberations. Medical Journal of Australia, 201(9), 545-547.

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